One would think that a FDA veterinarian would have a heart…show a little compassion. One would think that, but…when this pet owner reported the deaths of her two cats to FDA, the FDA veterinarian that refused to investigate proved not all FDA veterinarians have a heart. This is one of the cruelest, heartless actions I’ve ever heard of from FDA.
Karen L. had four healthy young cats four months ago (two boys, two girls – three cats 5 years, one 1 year). Today she has only two cats, and those two are still recovering from serious illness. Karen was feeding her babies Royal Canin Veterinary Formula Rx diet, and partially into a new bag of food all four cats began vomiting with diarrhea. With
veterinary treatment (and discontinuing the food) the two male cats began to improve but the females did not. Continued veterinary treatment including treatment by a veterinary Internist (Dove Lewis Clinic Portland, OR), Karen’s girls didn’t make it. Princess and Muffin died; 3/6 and 3/12 respectively.
Karen’s regular veterinarian and the specialist veterinarian told her they had no doubt, the pet food was the link to the illness and death.
Karen reported this to FDA electronically (online); complaint coordinator Camille Bennett-Hoffman out of Seattle promptly responded. When Ms. Bennett-Hoffman completed her part of the investigation, the case was forwarded to FDA/CVM headquarters. (By the way, Karen stated this FDA investigator was very kind and sympathetic – I spoke with her and felt the same.) Approximately two weeks after the initial complaint was filed, Karen received a call from veterinarian Renate Reimschuessel, Research Biologist with FDA.
Dr. Renate Reimschuessel told this grieving pet owner…
“there was nothing the FDA could do, they wouldn’t know what to test the pet food for”
“but if your other two cats die, send us their bodies – FDA will pay for shipping”
The FDA did not ask for pet food to test; Karen still has more than 1/2 a bag. Two veterinarians “had no doubt” the pet food was the cause. The FDA had the opportunity to look at detailed veterinary treatment records for these cats and to work with to veterinarians to discover the cause – but they didn’t bother. Instead, one FDA veterinarian spoke the heartless words “but if your other two cats die, send us their bodies”.
This heartless mindset is the root of all evil in pet food and pet food regulations…’it’s just a cat’ – ‘it’s just a dog’. It is the WRONG mindset and it must stop.
Can you imagine if the parent of a human child that just died from food poisoning got a call from an FDA investigator that said…’Sorry, we can’t investigate your child’s death – we don’t know what to test for. But if your other children die…send us their bodies.’ This behavior from a government agency would be unheard of in the human realm and it will not accepted by pet food consumers.
The following letter has been sent to FDA/CVM Ombudsman (grievance-handling official who investigates citizen’s complaints)…
Marcia K. Larkins, DVM
FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine
7519 Standish Place
Rockville, MD 20855
Dear Dr. Larkins,
I wish to inform you of heartless, cruel actions by a CVM veterinarian – Renate Reimschuessel. Dr. Reimschuessel dismissed an investigation of two cat deaths linked to Royal Canin Veterinary Formula cat food stating the FDA “wouldn’t know what to test the pet food for”. Followed by “but if your 2 other cats die, send us their bodies – FDA will pay for shipping”.
I have worked representing the needs of pet food consumers for more than 8 years now, this statement by Dr. Reimschuessel is the most heartless words spoken to a pet owner I have ever heard. It would be unheard of for an FDA investigator to tell the parent of a child that died from food poisoning ‘FDA can’t investigate, we wouldn’t know what to test for. But if your other children die, send us their bodies.’ What at FDA or who at FDA has determined that these are acceptable words to speak to a grieving pet owner?
Dr. Reimschuessel owes this family a sincere apology. Pet food consumers deserve a public FDA apology and the promise FDA will no longer consider our pets as disposable property.
These cats went through great pain, extensive testing and veterinary treatment; both the regular veterinarian and the specialist veterinarian that treated the cats firmly believed the cat food was the link to their illness and subsequent deaths. However the FDA did not even bother to test the pet food (the pet owner has almost 3/4 of the original food still in her possession); in fact the FDA refused to accept any pet food for testing. This is unacceptable.
I am requesting a response – addressing the apology from Dr. Reimschuessel, apology and explanation of change of FDA mindset that pets are disposable, and a full explanation as to why FDA did not take the opportunity to work with two practicing veterinarians to help determine the cause of death with these cats.
Association for Truth in Pet Food
I did make a phone call to Dr. Reimschuessel; I told her who I was then said “I just wanted you to know that your words to Karen L. were the most heartless, cruel words I have ever heard of from a veterinarian or an FDA official.” She responded “I appreciate your feedback” and hung up on me.
‘G’ rated words can’t properly explain my emotions regarding this incident.
Our pets are family. Our pets matter. Any of you in pet food and pet food regulations that think otherwise needs to find a new job – go make shoe strings. Do yourself and all pet food consumers a favor, get out of pet food.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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